July 21, 2015 |
Moments after buying some Advil and bottled water at a Suburban Station newsstand, Serena Starnes realized that she was out of cigarettes. She quickly went back and paid $9.50 for a pack of Newports. Had Starnes been in the suburbs, she would have paid much less because of the city's $2-a-pack tax earmarked for city schools. The extra $2 stings, but at least the money is going to help educate her children, the unemployed barber said. "It's good because it's going toward the schools," the mother of nine said.
July 13, 2015 |
It's hard to argue with an independent arbitrator's recent ruling that the School Reform Commission must provide a full-time counselor for every Philadelphia school. The need is glaring and should be a priority. But putting the decision in the context of the School District's poor financial condition provides a different perspective. It's too bad the arbitrator didn't issue his opinion until after City Council began its summer recess. Maybe the need to restore more of the 283 counselor positions vacated to save money in 2013 would have prompted Council to meet the district's request for an additional $103 million.
July 3, 2015 |
In a sweep of Philadelphia public schools, investigators from the City Controller's Office found a litany of health and safety threats, including exposed electrical wires, cockroaches, and widespread water damage. City Controller Alan Butkovitz, in releasing a report detailing "outrageous" School District building conditions, said his office found immediate health hazards that seemed to be largely ignored by district officials. "Why isn't that a public health emergency?" Butkovitz asked at a news conference.
July 2, 2015 |
With no end in sight to budget debates in Harrisburg, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission adopted a spending plan Tuesday that guarantees little else beyond schools opening on time in September. The SRC unanimously approved a $2.6 billion budget that could rise to $2.8 billion, depending on how much money state lawmakers appropriate for Philadelphia schools. Principals and central office staff, however, will have no authority to spend beyond this year's austerity levels until a state budget deal is reached.
July 1, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - Third-grade teacher Elaine Blackmon took a deep breath and made her best sales pitch. "What's good for Philadelphia public students is good for students across the commonwealth," Blackmon told an impassive assistant to Rep. Martin Causer (R., McKean). "We're asking him to reconsider Gov. Wolf's budget. " Blackmon was among hundreds of people who descended on the state Capitol on Monday to lobby lawmakers deep in negotiations to pass a state budget. Among them were more 100 teachers, nurses, and other members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, sporting red T-shirts and making their case for more funding for city schools.
June 27, 2015 |
One of the city's top high schools just got more support for its newest venture, a middle school launching in the fall. Carver High School for Engineering and Science, which is expanding to serve 120 seventh and eighth graders in September, has been awarded $200,000 from the Philadelphia School Partnership, officials announced Thursday. That's on top of a $147,000 grant that PSP, a deep-pocketed nonprofit, already awarded to Carver to fund planning for its middle school. The newest award will support more planning as the school develops at 16th and West Norris Streets, principal Ted Domers said.
June 25, 2015 |
At the eleventh hour, several community and nonprofit groups are crying foul over the city's plan to auction 938 tax liens - in an online endeavor that is to begin Wednesday and end Monday - in the hope of collecting millions of dollars in unpaid property taxes and related fees. The sale is for control of a tax lien - essentially a claim attached to commercial and residential properties and vacant lots with unpaid real estate taxes, not the property itself. The auction is a pilot program that could result in other lien sales, according to the Nutter administration.
June 12, 2015 |
When her medically fragile son was in kindergarten, Sabrina Jones had a rotating cast of private-duty nurses at his Philadelphia public school. "It just wasn't a good experience," said Jones - too little consistency, no real connection with her son, who has a feeding tube. But when he moved to a school that had a full-time nurse, she said, things improved dramatically. "The relationship between the nurse and my child is essential," said Jones, whose son is now a fourth grader at Lingelbach School in Germantown.
June 11, 2015 |
A state Senate committee on Tuesday approved a bill that would create a state-run system to take over low-performing Pennsylvania schools, sending to the full chamber a measure that Philadelphia's superintendent said could be devastating to city schools. Modeled after similar legislation in states such as Louisiana and Tennessee, Senate Bill 6 mandates that the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools - as defined by the state's school performance profile - transform themselves within three years, either by contracting with outside providers or converting to charters.
June 5, 2015 |
WITH JUST TWO weeks to go before City Council recesses for the summer, it does not appear likely that $105 million in new funding for the School District of Philadelphia will be approved, Council President Darrell Clarke said yesterday. "There does not appear to be support for that at this time, after four successive years of raising taxes to the tune of over $350 million," a somber Clarke said. "There's not a lot of appetite to have another significant tax increase. " He said Council would "push forward" to make sure the school district's $85 million budget deficit is dealt with this month, but added that the legislative body would use means other than a tax increase to help the schools provide educational enhancements requested by Superintendent William Hite.